Homesteading may sound simple and peaceful, but it takes a lot of work even before getting started. Because it entails a self-sufficient lifestyle, homesteading is all about growing your own food, preserving them, and sometimes even producing your own clothing. Homesteading is pursued in many different ways, and some even consider it a mindset before anything else.
If you see yourself as someone who wants to homestead, here’s a comprehensive guide on the basic skills every homesteader needs to know.
What to Do Before Homesteading
The first thing you should do before starting to homestead is to answer the question, what do you want from your homestead? Do you want to raise animals? Plant your own food? Produce textiles? Or a combination of everything? The success of your homesteading goal relies on the property you have.
Be sure to assess its capacity. Be realistic about it. If you are living in the woods, do you think a herd of goats can live in the area when there are falling trees and branches everywhere? Can your plants grow in the climate? Is there enough space for tools, crops, and animals? Also, take note if you’ll be able to afford the expenses such as taxes, construction, etc. Do you have enough skills to do these things on your own?
If you’ve budgeted, agreed with your family, and decided on a property already, don’t immediately go overboard with homesteading. Start small. For example, begin with three or four chickens and a small 12×6 garden.
Basic Homesteading Skills
If you have finally settled into homesteading, here are the basic skills you’ll have to learn.
Growing your own food is one of the most essential homesteading skills. Not only does it help you stay full without having to buy food, but it also has a huge effect on how you care about the Earth.
Choose a sunny location for your garden as most veggies need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Start simple when gardening, by planting basil and tomato. These plants are easy to grow, preserve, and use in the kitchen. They can also be cooked and prepared in various dishes.
Over time, you can expand your garden until you have enough crops to feed your family full-time.
Food gardening is not an easy task as there are many other skills you have to learn under this category, but you’ll get there!
There are so many ways you can preserve fresh produce, one of which is canning. It is a safe method that involves placing foods in jars or similar containers and heating them to a temperature that destroys micro-organisms that cause food to spoil. During this heating process air is driven out of the jar and as it cools a vacuum seal is formed.
There are two types of canning. The boiling water bath method is safe for tomatoes, fruits, jams, jellies, pickles, and more. Here, jars of food are heated completely covered with boiling water (212°F at sea level) and cooked for a specified amount of time.
The other method, which is pressure canning, is for vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood. Jars of food are placed in 2 to 3 inches of water in a special pressure cooker which is heated to a temperature of at least 240° F.
Other food preservation techniques include freezing, drying, and more.
Goats are farm animals you can add to your farm which don’t require a lot of space, care, and food. They offer the benefit of fresh raw milk and meat, and help you clear weeds. Their stools also make great compost.
You can also sell goats or sell products like cheese, soap, and lotions with their milk. Remember to plan a place in the house where they will stay and be milked. They also need some space to forage!
Chickens are one of the best resources for modern homesteading. They give you egg and meat, help make compost, and even make you money. They don’t require much space and care. For a family of 5, 3 hens are enough to provide you with farm fresh eggs.